Summer Dreams

From the Farm:


Published in the Casper Journal September 13, 2011

After three summers in Wyoming, we FINALLY made it to the downtown farmers’ market. What fun! A lovely evening, good music, friendly people and great booths - a perfect example of the American entrepreneurial spirit. Oh, did I mention? We went to the market as a vendor ...
After our successful family garden last summer, we had the bright idea to expand, and planted part of our land in corn (a long shot for former Las Vegans!). We planted, weeded and watered it all by hand. It was an experiment and, except for the seed and the deer fence, cost us nothing but time. When only 1/3 of the plants grew, we were a bit discouraged, but still watered and weeded throughout the summer.
Two weeks ago, my son came running in to tell us our corn was ready. We could hardly believe it! Like magic, the stalks were full of rich, ripe ears. After a few nights of corn on the cob (which is yummy, but redundant), we hit the farmers’ market with a van full of corn and a home-painted sign.
Within an hour, we had sold out. The kids were elated. Was the corn extra yummy? I hope so. Were the kids extra cute? I think so. But more than the profit, we were thrilled with the fact that our “corn dream” had worked!
Our corn experiment also brought out the entrepreneurial spirit in our children. One afternoon they put their heads together and made a list of jobs: lawnmowing, tree cutting, weed pulling, and even “barn painting” (not sure how that one got on there). With a hand-written flyer naming their price (between $5 and $10 per job), they bravely approached several homes in our neighborhood. It was a hot afternoon, and when they returned an hour later, they were a bit discouraged.
“We gave everyone a flyer, but no one said they wanted us to work.” I said nothing, knowing the seeds of their experiment had at least been planted.
Two days later, a neighbor called, asking for help to weed her garden. More than thrilled, the kids went out the door and returned with cash in their pockets. A week later, they were called on to watch a dog while the owners were gone. Another day, they washed windows. They were in heaven! Trying not to interfere, I let them work out the details of each job, noting that the neighbors were generally more generous than the initial price my children had listed. (No barn-painting jobs, though.)
Watching his older siblings come home with money in their pockets, my 4-year-old asked one day if he could sell eggs. Slightly embarrassed about a small child and an egg stand in our driveway, I tried to hold him off. However, his eager spirit finally convinced me to let him try. He set up a table with a hand-printed sign near the road: Eggs .25 each. I put six of our chicken eggs in a bowl and watched him go out and sit in the sun, certain he would be disappointed. However, glancing out the window a few minutes later, I was surprised to see our neighbor carefully put four eggs into his pockets and hand my son a dollar bill. My little boy pounded on the door. “I sold some eggs!” Within 10 more minutes, his other two eggs were sold as well, and I made him clean up the stand. (I needed the rest of the eggs in the house for dinner.)
Thankful that he had been successful, I was also grateful to our considerate neighbors who gave him and my other children a chance. The corn, the eggs and the odd jobs not only provided my children with a great experience, but helped them each purchase most of their school supplies.
The money is beside the point, however, and the real victory is the opportunity to set a goal and reach it. Some day they’ll be beyond homemade egg stands and handwritten flyers, but for now, thanks to the farmers’ market and some very friendly neighbors, they’ve experienced the American dream.

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